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Love and violence in new play that explores troubled history

Judy Murphy

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Arts Week with Judy Murphy – judymurphy@ctribune.ie

Days of Darkness, the latest drama from city based community theatre group, Alâ will be staged at An Taibhdhearc Theatre from April 3-5.

It follows their success last November with a re-imagining of the story of the pirate queen, Gráinne Mhaol, which was presented in St Nicholas’ Collegiate Church.

With this new play, the company, which was set up to address social issues, again takes Ireland and its mythologies as subject matter and again the piece is being written and directed by Gerry Conneely.

“The idea was to do a series of four new plays and we started with Granuaile and The Pages of History to explore the mother/woman myth,” Gerry explains on a break from rehearsals.

“We are a forum theatre group, so we take on issues from contemporary life and we deal with them,” he adds.

Days of Darkness is set in the 1970s and its subject is darker than Granuaile and the Pages of History. It examines the development of a revolutionary republican group from its inception to its eventual disintegration through betrayal and fragmentation.

“We are exploring republicanism, nationalism and Marxism through a young couple who get tied up with the Troubles in a small left-wing group like the INLA. Both their lives are negatively impacted by their involvement,” Gerry says.

Days of Darkness explores a range of issues, including identity, religion, socialism and nationalism in the context of the Northern Ireland conflict. It also analyses the devastating impact of violence on the lives of its two central characters. Its message to the audience is not to forget the past because if when that happens, people are destined to repeat it.

That message is particularly relevant at present, with the rise of splinter republican groups following the Northern Ireland peace agreement. Many of these have formed relationships with criminal gangs in Dublin and in other cities and towns and, as the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising looms these groups are, to paraphrase Gerry Adams, “not going away”.

Given that there are so many young people out there who have no memory of the dark days of the 1970s, it’s important to inform them of how these paramilitary groups affected society in Ireland, both North and South, says Gerry.

The subject matter is undoubtedly serious, but it is treated humorously and lightly, according to Kinvara man, Gerry, who has extensive experience working with community theatre groups in Ireland.

“It’s as much a play about love as it is about politics,” he observes.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

‘Home’ is theme of diverse Clifden Arts Festival

Judy Murphy

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‘Home’ is the theme of year’s annual Clifden Arts Festival, which runs from September 12-23.
The event will explore the concept of home, as well as showcasing Ireland’s diverse arts community with a wide variety of shows and performances,
“The physical place of birth holds a special place within us, while for others it isn’t physical but rather the feelings, the emotion, the character, the people and the culture, that shape it and make it,” explains Festival Director Brendan Flynn of the decision to focus on home. “We hope to capture that feeling and explore a sense of home and how it is unique for each of us.”
The strong line-up at this year’s Festival includes headline names, some familiar and others new to Clifden.
The RTÉ Concert Orchestra and RTÉs ConTempo Quartet will both make the journey West, as will other big names in Irish music including Aslan, Máirtín O’Connor, Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill, Martin Hayes, Bill Whelan, Lisa Hannigan, Declan Nerney, Frankie Gavin and Fiachra O’Regan, Seán Keane, Charlie McGettigan, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny and Paddy Glackin.
Poets and Aosdána members, Paul Durcan and Rita Ann Higgins will also take part, while Mayo novelist, EM Reapy, whose novel Red Dirt, set in Australia, which won the 2017 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, will read with Sligo-born Galway-based poet, Michael Gorman.
There’s a one-man play, Padraig Potts, by Séamus O’Rourke and a drama about Constance Markievicz, written by journalist Mary Kenny and performed by Jeananne Crowley.
On the comedy front, award-winning Danny O’Brien will bring brings his Lock In show fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Museum exhibition on former slave and champion boxer Tom Molineaux

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Galway City Museum is hosting a special exhibition in memory of former slave and champion African-American bare-knuckle fighter, Tom Molineaux, who died in the city in 1818.
Tom Molineaux was discovered sick and destitute on the streets of Galway in the summer of 1818. Aged just 34, the washed-up fighter was given shelter in the band room of the Shambles Barracks – where St Patrick’s National School is today – by three drummers from the 77th (East Middlesex) Regiment. Like him, they were freed slaves.
However, despite their kindness, Molineaux died on August 4 and was buried in a pauper’s grave in St James’s Cemetery, Mervue. It was a sad end for a unique man.
By the time he arrived in Galway, Molineaux was destitute and worn down by drinking and fighting, but this man had once been among the world’s top boxers, mixing with the wealthiest people in England.
In 1810 and again in 1811, Molineaux had fought the English champion, Tom Cribb. He was defeated both times in what were the first and second world title fights, although there were allegations that he had been robbed of victory due to underhand behaviour by Cribb’s supporters. Afterwards, Molineaux had gone on a tour of Scotland and Ireland where he fought off challengers, gave public displays of his skill and taught the ‘sweet science of bruising’.
Galway City Museum is marking the 200th anniversary of Molineaux’s death with an exhibition and a series of events including a talk by boxing historian Patrick Myler and a screening of the documentary, Ag Trasnú An Atlantaigh Dhuibh (Crossing the Black Atlantic). This documentary is the work of local filmmaker Des Kilbane and was shot in Virginia and Ireland. It premiered at last year’s Galway Film Fleadh.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and  county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Macnas warming up for annual Halloween parade

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Macnas Theatre Company is one of Galway’s real treasures, a creative company that has reimagined itself in recent years under the artistic directorship of Noeline Kavanagh. Its talented members will take to the city’s streets on Sunday, October, 29, for this year’s Halloween Parade, for which the main sponsor is The Latin Quarter. The following day, Macnas will take part in Dublin’s Halloween celebrations and later this year, will bring that parade to Hull, the UK’s City of Culture.

Giants, goblins,wolves and the otheworldly creatures that Macnas are so good at creating fit in particularly well with Halloween, a time of year when the veil between the world of the living and the dead is at its most permeable. The usual mix of mischief and mayhem can be expected at this family event, with the promise from Macnas of “some truly incredible new work”.

More details of that new work will be announced in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, the company is seeking volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering in the parade and are over the age of 18, check out the details on the group’s Facebook page. Or, if you or someone you know is interested in sponsoring or supporting the parade, you can email admin@macnas.com.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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